Igad wants Eritrea punished over chaos in Somalia

Thursday May 21 2009

Motorists push a car in flood waters after torrential rains in southern Mogadishu. The UN was on Thursday asked to act to save the Somalia’s fledgling government from Islamist militants.. Photo/REUTERS

Motorists push a car in flood waters after torrential rains in southern Mogadishu. The UN was on Thursday asked to act to save the Somalia’s fledgling government from Islamist militants.. Photo/REUTERS 

By DAVE OPIYO in Nairobi and ARGAW ASHINE in Ethiopia

The UN Security Council was on Thursday asked to impose tough sanctions on the Eritrea for calling for the ouster of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia. The Inter Governmental Authority on Development (Igad) Council of Ministers further urged the Security Council to impose an immediate air and maritime blockade on Somalia to stop the inflow of weapons into the war-torn country.

The decision was reached on Thursday by the ministers at an extraordinary meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which had been called to discuss the prevailing political and security situation in Somalia. In a communiqué, the Eritrean Government was further accused of calling for the attacks on the African Union Mission in Somalia, which the council members declared ‘acts of aggression.’

Acts of aggression

“We condemn in the strongest terms possible all the individuals, organisations and countries, in particular the Government of Eritrea and its financiers, who continue to instigate, recruit, train, fund and supply the criminal elements in and or to Somalia,” read the communiqué.

It went on; “These are acts of aggression against a sovereign country and legitimate government forces. We are therefore calling upon the UN Security Council to act tough and impose sanctions on the Eritrean government without any delay.” Some of the sanctions proposed include travel bans and freezing of assets, against all those in and outside Somalia who had become obstacles to the achievement of peace to the war torn country.

Eritrea had been withdrawn from Igad in 2007 after describing the regional bloc as “inefficient”. Kenyan Foreign Affairs minister Moses Wetang’ula, later on told the Nation in Addis Ababa that there was ample evidence to show that Eritrea was backing Somalia Islamists.

And he declared that all the Igad country members would respect and abide by all the proposal. Somalia has been experiencing intense fighting between forces loyal to the Transitional Federal Government and the opposition Al-Shabaab and Hizb-ul-Islam groups since in several north-west areas of Mogadishu since May 8.

The heavy fighting in the country considered one of the world’s biggest refugee producing areas, has led to the deaths of many civilian and has sparked a new wave of displacement leading to a humanitarian disaster. Recent statistics from the UNHCR indicate that despite a lull in fighting in Mogadishu, the number of people fleeing the Somali capital in the last two weeks had now risen to 45,000.

But on Thursday, the Igad Council of Ministers meeting, which was chaired by Ethiopian Foreign Affairs minister, Mr Seyoum Mesfin, condemned the acts of the Al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam (Islamic Party) militia and other such groups and warlords who continued to wage destructive wars in Somalia.

“The current aggression in Somalia that had resulted to numerous deaths and displacements is uncalled for. This has partly been exacerbated by an influx of foreign armed aggressors on Somalia,” added the communiqué. It went on, “We recognise the fact that the assailants have used porous of Somalia especially the airports at KM 50 and KM 90 to receive supplies of arms and ammunition.”

And due to this, the ministers consequently once again urged the UN Security Council to impose a no fly-zone, except for humanitarian purposes, which were only authorised by the government on a number of airports, to curb the supplies of arms and ammunition. The airports listed included those in Kismayu, Baidoa, KM 50, Balidoogle, Waajid, Hudur, all airports in Gedo Region, Isaley and Johwar.